Hair Therapy

Scalp massages, hair analyses, and conditioning treatments have become standard fare in most spas. In fact, today many spas come complete with in-house, full-service salons. And spas aren't alone in recognizing the benefits of offering both hair and body treatments under one roof. One only has to look at the number of celebrated stylists with acclaimed salons branching out with spa treatments or at the growing number of haircare manufacturers developing spa-oriented product lines and treatments to realize that haircare is an essential part of the total spa experience.

Stylists Going Spa

John Masters, owner of John Masters Organics Salon, Spa & Apothecary in New York City and creator of the organic haircare and skincare line bearing his name, added his spa this past October. According to him, it just made sense to give clients one place to fulfill all their beauty needs. It was also the opportunity he was looking for to introduce his organic products and services to spa-goers, a market traditionally more apt to appreciate them.

With natural ingredients, such as willow bark, burdock root, and other herbal infusions, Masters's haircare line epitomizes the essence of spa. In keeping with that philosophy, Masters has chosen not to offer perms because of the harsh chemicals and toxic odors associated with them. He does, however, color hair using an herbal-based, ammonia-free single process color. He also offers clay-based, ammonia-free highlights, which are popular with those looking for natural-looking highlights as well as younger twenty-something clients looking for chunky, more radical color. These natural treatments are safer for not only stylists but also clients. "We get a lot of calls from pregnant women who can no longer color their hair with chemicals," says Masters. The ammonia-free color gives them another, healthier alternative.

Celebrity stylist Laurent Dufourg also made the move to spa owner in December with the opening of Ona Spa above his renowned salon, Priv in Beverly Hills. His haircare line, Formule Aux Herbes, introduced in June of last year, features a blend of herbs and natural ingredients including comfrey, lemongrass, aloe, and ginseng. According to him, people are willing to spend more for haircare products with special ingredients. "People have become more conscious of their hair," says Dufourg. "This is especially true in L.A. and on the West Coast where people spend more time outside under the sun and at the beach."

John Masters's stylish Soho sanctuary provides an organic experience to health-conscious New Yorkers.
John Masters's stylish Soho sanctuary provides an organic experience to health-conscious New Yorkers.

Famed salon duo Edward Tricomi and Joel Warren recently opened Warren-Tricomi Salon and Spa in the Sportsclub/LA located in New York City's Rockefeller Center. Tricomi says opening a spa was a natural transition, as clients had been asking him to do it for years. "I always considered it a part of what we do," he says. And he's not the only one. Haircare product manufacturers are also finding a new niche in the spa market. According to Tricomi, product lines created specifically for the spa are becoming increasingly popular as clients gravitate toward products that stimulate all the senses. "It's important that they provide both a sensory and tactile experience," says Tricomi, noting that there is a growing trend among haircare manufacturers to create products that are more specific in nature. "You can't make one product that fits everyone's needs."

Spa-oriented Product Lines

What most spa lines do have in common, however, is an emphasis on products that smell good. Aromatherapy is a key element to taking an ordinary conditioning treatment and turning it into a spa experience. "The important thing when it comes to products is how they smell and feel on the hair," says Warren, who adds that ultimately it's the end result that matters most. Pureology recently launched a line of professional products that not only smell and feel great but also help protect haircolor from fading. And, containing pure and natural extracts, Wella's Lifetex Wellness collection includes products that do everything from hydrating and moisturizing dry hair, to boosting limp hair, to enhancing the effectiveness of styling products. With a decidedly spa flavor, Phytobiodermie features a line of products and treatments for the hair and scalp based on the principles of Chinese medicine and energy-balancing yin-yang theory.

Joining the ranks of manufacturers that have product lines designed to appeal to spa-goers, Farouk Systems recently acquired a spa haircare line in which natural ingredients figure prominently. Using Belizean extracts of nopal, gumbolimbo, and hibiscus, the Arum Spa Therapy line comes complete with a variety of essential oils that can be used to create custom-blended scalp and hair treatments. According to marketing manager Karen Howard, the company recognized the value in procuring a line that was based on aromatherapy and natural ingredients. "People are looking for something different...alternative remedies to help relieve everyday stresses," says Howard.

In addition to its custom-blended treatments, Farouk has also put together a Moor Mud treatment designed to help exfoliate and dissolve lipid buildup on the scalp. "It was developed with the same thinking that just as the face and body need exfoliation so does the scalp," says Howard. "A healthy scalp promotes hair growth." The company's Spirulina Scalp treatment helps nourish and hydrate. Offering manufacturer-created treatments like these provide an easy way for spas to add scalp and hair treatments to their menus. Because one size does not fit all, customization is the key to ensuring that clients get the experience they desire and the treatment their hair needs.

Edward Tricomi
Edward Tricomi

More Treatments and Trends

Whether wellness-based, therapeutic, or both, hair-and-scalp treatments have their place in the spa. "They're what facials are to skincare," says Dufourg. In fact, they've become so popular that many spas are devoting valuable space specifically for such treatments. At Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa's latest addition in New York City, a scalp treatment room was created off the shampoo area to provide clients with a more private and relaxing experience. "People can close their eyes and doze off," says managing director Brian Cantor. With three condi-tioning treatments on the menu, the spa offers the Lemongrass Five Week Intensive Treatment ($50) to condition and give hair shine, the Deep Conditioning Treatment ($50) using a warm Dead Sea mud mask, and the Express Hair Booster ($25) to help eliminate breakage and strengthen hair. With blow out, the Lemongrass and Deep Conditioning treatments increase to $75. Cantor expects hair-and-scalp treatments to continue to grow and attributes their popularity to an increase in the number of people chemically treating their hair. "People see them as a form of relaxation as well as a beneficial treatment for the scalp and hair," says Cantor.

At Avenue Hair Studio and Spa in Saginaw, MI, owner Dawn Carter had a scalp treatment room included in the spa's layout when it was added to the existing salon. The eight-by-nine square foot room, complete with wet bowl, provides a soothing experience away from the hustle and bustle of the salon. Using scalp treatments to introduce her salon clients to the benefits of spa services and promote the newly added spa, Carter charges only $15 for Avenue's 15-minute Mini Hair Spa Treatments. "We offer our scalp treatments dirt cheap," says Carter. "It gives clients an introduction to the spa experience and helps them to imagine what a full hour must feel like."

Finding success with Wella's Lifetex Wellness Treatments, Carter recently added Paul Mitchell's T3 Retreat to the menu. Using products from the company's Tea Tree Collection, the invigorating treatment helps clarify the hair follicles and scalp, producing a healthier head of hair. "A lot of men are getting it, especially young, hip guys who are into highlighting their hair," says Carter. It's also popular with women in their 30s and 40s. "I find it a lot easier talking staff into doing [scalp-and-hair treatments] than other add-ons," says Carter. According to her, they are also great for putting clients at ease when staff is running behind. Applying an intense conditioner to hair, wrapping their head in a towel, and putting them under a steamer with a bit of aromatherapy is usually more beneficial and relaxing to clients than leaving them to wait indefinitely in the reception area.

Some industry experts attribute the growth of scalp-and-hair treatments in part to the role stylists have taken in terms of educating clients to the benefits. It stands to reason that with the number of haircare professionals and manufacturers involved in developing and promoting new product technology that scalp-and-hair treatments will continue to become increasingly sophisticated in terms of the results they provide. Fortunately for spa- and salon-goers, a healthy head of hair and a more relaxed self aren't mutually exclusive. The definition of beauty is translating to deeper levels, and treatments for healthier locks are evolving into the feel-good experiences they should be.